Last week, while mostly lying prone to recover from post-holiday alcoholic frivolity, I scanned an article in our sister publication, Network World. In keeping with this time of year, the piece put forth a trio of enterprise IT predictions for 2014. A quick summary:
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1. Frightened by this year's revelations concerning the NSA, enterprises will become more cautious about the cloud. I'll go with that one, though I think it falls short in its justification. Prying NSA eyes are certainly one factor, but an almost weekly rhythm of headlines like "40 million customer records stolen from Target" sounded the drums of doom to widespread enterprise cloud adoption way before the NSA's faux pas.
Microsoft, Rackspace, VMware, and most other big-time cloud providers advertised hybrid cloud as an instant cure-all, but their hybrid architecture marketing was simplistic at best. Security issues are flying in from all directions, and they will make designing hybrid clouds much more complex, which will in turn bring adoption to a compliance-burdened crawl. Enterprises will start vetting everything in 2014: the cloud, their smartphones, their new glasses, and where their office furniture comes from. Everything will slow to a technical trickle, and I wouldn't be surprised if hardware server sales even went up a little as enterprises tuck their heads back in their shell and decide to give their in-house data centers an extension on life. The firewall devils you know ...
2. Microsoft's search for a new CEO will define the future of its products in your organization. Well, yeah. I have my own starstruck ideas over who might or should take over Redmond's digital throne, and we'll get to those in the near future, but any CEO choice is going to affect the future of Microsoft's products and how you adopt them -- unless the company chooses Miley Cyrus, in which case it'll forget all about this fully clothed enterprise stuff and devote its full attention to a Kinect-driven twerking experience that will also lend new meaning to the term "tongue-lashing." Sadly, we'll probably also see the first noticeable spike in Microsoft stock since stonewashed jeans were cool.
3. We'll see the rise of the cloud broker. I thought I might be missing something, but judging from the description, this sounded like a cloud consultant who would sit down with you and map out a vendor-neutral cloud strategy that would keep the NSA happy and the Nigerian royal family out. That seems to fly in the face of prediction No. 1, however. I predict there will be relatively few "cloud brokers" in 2014, and most will wear shiny suits and come from previous careers selling used cars.
Frankly, I think the article missed a few solid enterprise predictions. Here are some of mine:
The cloud won't slow down in general, just in NSA-controlled territories
Dollars to digital donuts, entrepreneurs in various pirate economies are looking to build government-neutral data fortresses, which means 2014 will see the emergence of ultra-high-security, Teflon-coated, Swiss bank-style offshore clouds protected from anyone without authorized access. At first, they'll be welcomed by enterprises the world over -- until it comes out that pedophiles, criminals, and terrorists have petitioned the Pope to declare Edward Snowden a saint for his role as martyr-catalyst.